Vinyl Vibes: An a-ha! Moment; Beyond ABBA

My vinyl collection expanded quite a bit during Covid lockdowns and restrictions – the money I would normally spend locally on beer and a burger or going out of town was redirected to buying records or LEGO.

At the start of the year, I decided I would listen through my collection alphabetically, but only sort of. Rather than going through all the A artists first, followed by B and so on, I’m listening to a single album in A, then B, then C and so forth, until I get through the entire alphabet – then I will start over. This means I won’t be listening to only one artist for albums at a time (I own every ABBA album released on vinyl and tend to be a completist when collecting music from artists I like).

My alphabetic listen-through is contained to my rock/pop albums, although I might throw a movie soundtrack into the mix, and maybe even some jazz.

a-ha – Hunting High and Low: Everyone knows “Take on Me,” but this album is more than a one hit wonder. The first five tracks on side one are all quite good and show the band’s range. Side 2 starts with the excellent “The Sun Always Shines on TV,” although the last two or three tracks are somewhat forgettable.

The Bangles – All Over the Place: This doesn’t have the high profile hit singles the band is most known for such as “Manic Monday” or “Eternal Flame,” but it’s a solid debut album. This band was the soundtrack for anyone who grew up in the 80s.

Neko Case: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood: This is the only Neko Case album I own on vinyl which makes no sense because I love her voice, lyrics, and melodies – the rest of her work I only own digitally.

Def Lepard – Hysteria: I’m old enough to remember slow dancing to “Love Bites” in high school. It and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” are the only two notable tracks on this album which is probably why I was able to pick it up for less than $10. When I posted this evaluation on Facebook, I got quite a lot of push back, with folks pointing out there were other singles from the album as well as other tracks they thought we pretty good. I think I need to give this album another listen.

Kathleen Edwards – Failer: I saw Kathleen Edwards play the Mod Club while promoting her third album, which I quite like. It was one of the best live performances I’d seen. This remastered first record for vinyl is a solid debut album, and recently released as Edwards returned to her a music career should put on hold for a while. I hope her other albums get the vinyl treatment, and that Edwards will produce some new music.

Agnetha Faltskog – Wrap Your Arms Around Me: The women of ABBA both had solo careers after the group split up. This was the only one I heard when it came out. It was a solid album with good singles although every track is basically about falling in love or a failed romance. The sound wasn’t that far from ABBA itself.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

AI-Driven HBM Uptake Is Power-Sensitive [Byline]

High-bandwidth memory (HBM) has become the artificial-intelligence memory of choice, and as HBM3 goes into volume production, more attention is being paid to power consumption in the wake of 2023’s generative AI boom.

The increasing demand for memory bandwidth from AI is directly correlated to increasing HBM bandwidth.Performance needs, memory bandwidth and memory sizes are growing exponentially, putting higher expectations and pressure on the next generation of HBM.

While bandwidth per watt as it relates to HBM is not particularly new, he said, energy consumption by data centers has been on the rise. These rapidly increasing power costs mean that bandwidth per watt is becoming a more important metric for enterprises who need to monitor operational costs—even more so with the increasing focus on sustainability initiatives.

The high costs associated with HBM and the price tag of the memory itself means the total cost of ownership becomes the deciding factor when determining if this uber-power memory is necessary for application. The process for customers to decide which memory they need starts with technical requirements like density, performance and power.

Read my full story for EE Times.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

An Ode to TV Guide

When you grow up in a rural area, there’s more channels listed in the TV Guide than what you can tune in, but I still looked forward to getting the new issue every week.

Living south of Ottawa outside of any sizeable town meant there was no cable TV. It wasn’t until I was out of the house for a few years that my parents got a satellite dish. I had to settle for rabbit ears and a rotating tower TV antenna.

Our proximity to the U.S. meant we could pull in the Big Three as well as two PBS stations, weather permitting. Saturday nights were spent making adjustments to get the best picture quality – more accurately, the least amount of “snow” – so I could watch and record Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and classic Doctor Who. (I developed a taste for Brit TV early in life that continues to this day). I bought piles of blank VHS tapes well into my 20s to record my favourite shows, whether they were broadcast over the air or on cable when I moved into Ottawa – and then to Edmonton, Vancouver, and Toronto.

By the time Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was wrapping its seven-year run, I was buying TV Guide with my grown-up money. There was lot more channels on cable, but it was still possible for the publication to provide listings and prime time grids for all the stations.

Over the years, however, there were fewer descriptions for the latest episode, let alone guest star highlights.

When I relocated to Toronto for a new writing gig, I got see how the sausage was made – my group of technology magazines shared the same floor as the TV Guide Canada staff, including the beleaguered listings editors. I was witnessing the beginning of the end as the everything was moved online.

What had been a thick magazine with plenty of articles and features wrapped around the listings – and the weekly crossword – atrophied into a pale version of itself. Eventually, TV listings in print became a thing of the past (there was Starweek in the Toronto Star until there wasn’t), as people got their listings from their cable providers on screen.

I kept a handful of Star Trek themed issues over the years, and as a teen I would clip the descriptions to use as labels on my tapes. Eventually it became affordable to buy episodes on VHS, which I’ve long since sold in favor of DVD and BluRay box sets.

Not everything makes a comeback – vinyl has roared back to eclipse CD sales, and there’s renewed interest in audio and video cassettes, but in era of streaming, there’s no place for TV listings printed on newsprint.  

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.